Sunday, March 1, 2015

True Religion

      To experience true love, you must first experience true heartbreak. This is not news to anybody that has been in a committed relationship of any sort, but it's not just those personal relationships that this sentence applies to.

      Sports are a completely emotional, irrational investment when logic is applied. We as sports fans spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to watch our teams play, buy their gear, not to mention the countless hours of emotional investment we put into watching our team play and hopefully watching them win. This includes all of the people we piss off along the way, and the wars we fight over this seemingly trivial exercise. Sports, in the grand scheme of things, are completely and totally trivial. There are many better, and more efficient things to put our time and money into.

    But no sports fan will ever say that their love and devotion is trivial. There may be no rational reason for the baseless superstitions of a die-hard fan on gameday. There may be no rational explanation for why someone has hooked their physical and emotional well being to a game happening miles away that he or she has no control over. But to them, it's life. They couldn't think of their life without these traditions, customs, beliefs, etc.

     Many people have compared sports to religion. Many more have equated sports to religion. All of them are right.

     We go to the temples of our many different faiths to pray to our own gods, continue on the customs of those that have come before us and pass down those traditions to our kids. We look for an escape from the problems of our daily lives, and we try to find comfort in those who are like minded, those who share our beliefs in the hope that they can help us find guidance. We sing the same songs, chant the same chants, have the same idols, read from the same books, and we share the same pains. We follow the same rules, have the same taboos, and preach the same phrases of belief.

   I could be talking about being Catholic, or being a New York Giants fan. Without the specifics, I could easily be talking about either or. We go to those temples and houses of faith, whether they be churches, synagogues, mosques or stadiums to pray and look for that catharsis that only our faith can bring. Maybe in some cases we'll brag about it. we'll probably argue about it no doubt and it may separate great friends in the end, but the catharsis that is really impossible to explain is the ultimate goal, and the process of finding it is the religion. The longer we all wait, the crazier we all become.

   Religion and sports are never painless. True heartbreak is part of the implicit contract signed when following the works of St. Peter or Peter Bondra. It's hard to explain why so many sign those individual contracts and stick with them, but then again, when is true love rational?

    So when your team loses a heartbreak final, championship, misses the playoffs by a tiebreaker to your greatest rival and you become inconsolable for a week, remember that finding true love comes with experiencing true heartbreak. Know that so many share your pain, and want the same thing you do. And know that come next week, you'll all reconvene to try to grasp that elusive pleasure that only your devotion can bring you.

    Or if it is lost on you, and the pain of irrational love for illusions, dreams and hopes that you can't control is too much to take, religion and sports both come with something wonderful: You won't be judged for drinking at the temple!

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